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James’ wife Josephine was cared for by Hospice West Auckland last year. He donated one of Josephine’s treasured possessions, a stunning Louis Vuitton handbag, to raise funds for Hospice via private auction. To part with something so meaningful was difficult for James, but we know that Josephine’s innate kindness has flowed through him with this donation. The financial support it generated will be passed onto others in need through the specialist care that Hospice West Auckland provides.

Here James shares with us some of the qualities he cherished most about Josephine and explains why it was important to him to raise funds for Hospice West Auckland.

Josephine, Hospice West Auckland patient

Josephine was my wife, my best friend and the love of my life. For over a decade I needed nearly no-one else, she was always enough and always by my side. When I clumsily introduced her as my ‘’better half’’ on the odd occasion, never a truer word had been said. She was the kind, selfless, generous and thoughtful balance to my (let’s say) pragmatic ‘keep calm and carry on’ approach to life and living. She was – and still is – my idol and I aspire to be more like her: to smile more often, to see the best in people and to exercise more compassion.

Josephine embodied kindness. Many will have felt her warmth, sometimes just through a simple smiley interaction. The best example I can share with you, however, is during a trip to her family home in the Philippines. Josephine’s friend Jac, a local schoolteacher, had talked about a special group of children in a remote and impoverished village, in need of volunteers and with extremely limited resources. Jose then took it upon herself to fully equip every child in the village with reading, writing and drawing materials, as well as calculators to support the volunteers. She collected everything with her sisters and we delivered and distributed it individually to the entire village of several hundred children. She felt this was far more meaningful and targeted than a simple donation.

Josephine was also completely selfless – she indulged me and my endless obsession with all manner of sports. She took pleasure in my pleasure. She was there at the finish line of every race or volunteered as a marshal or colour run assistant as a way of sharing the experience with me whenever she could. She was there on the beach for every surf session, and on the boat for every wakeboard trip. And if she could swim, I’m sure she would have tried to join me!

Despite only asking in return to be taken along on my sporting endeavours whenever and wherever I went, when our adventures involved trips overseas, she always admired the designer handbags in the various airports we visited around the world. So, I eventually indulged her, as she always did me.

I feel privileged to have been able to care for her so intimately at the end of her life. I would not have allowed anyone else to do it – to lift her up, to change her clothes and care for her in those final days. I do not think she would have accepted others doing it either. I also know we would not have been able to do this in our own home without the fantastic support of Hospice West Auckland. The medical team visited daily, and as well as constant checks on Josephine’s (and our) welfare, also supported by engaging her GP, pharmacies, care assistants and providing mobility support equipment where needed. We could not have done it without them.

Charity and volunteering, including work for Hospice West Auckland, Asthma Auckland and the Catholic church, were a constant part of Josephine’s life. Donating her treasured Louis Vuitton handbag, which she perhaps used only twice, to support Hospice, seems particularly fitting.

Josephine, take care of our son and know that I will love you forever – James.

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